Data Sharing: How Effectively Can Collectors Find Data on Existing Seed Collections

Michael Way (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK), Clara Holmes (Greenbelt Native Plant Center, USA), and Sean Hoban (The Morton Arboretum)

In 2017, we established a ‘gap analysis working group’ to assess and report the availability and usefulness of online native seed collection data from seven leading online data sources in order to help native seed collectors optimise their targets for additional collections. Volunteers reviewed online data sources and responded to a standardised list of questions to capture their experience of the depth and functionality of the data source. To visualise our findings we transformed results to simple numerical scores and projected on a six-node radar graph within a draft report. In addition, we asked curators of the data sources to fact-check our conclusions. We recommend that collection holders cooperate to publish standardised collection data that can be discovered, mapped, and evaluated using online tools. This will require enhanced cooperation between curators of botanical names, herbarium and seed curators, together with quality communication with the users of seed collections amongst the research, conservation and ecological restoration community. We discuss several innovative solutions addressing these recommendations that include Creative Commons, generalizing longitude and latitude data for widespread dissemination, analysing user communities to develop better tools for collectors, elucidating Seed Transfer Zones, and engaging seed collectors in the development of additional tools to assist seed collections.